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Microsoft, Dell, HP, Fujitsu plan to sell cloud servers

Microsoft Corp. will work with Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. to sell powerful server computers installed with Microsoft's Azure cloud- computing software.

Online auction site EBay Inc. will be one of the first customers, said Amy Barzdukas, a Microsoft general manager. The servers are so-called appliances, meaning they are preconfigured and users won't need to customize them. They will provide the equivalent power of hundreds of regular servers, she said.

The product is designed for companies that want to take advantage of the so-called private cloud model — running their own programs and storing them on servers in their own data centers. That compares with public clouds, which deliver data and software over the Internet from shared external servers.

It's an area where Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft competes with companies like Amazon.com Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. Global cloud-computing sales may reach US$148.8 billion by the end of 2014, up from US$58.6 billion last year, according to researcher Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut.

Customers are likely to be very large businesses, governments and firms that host applications for other companies, said Andy Rhodes, director of marketing for Dell's datacenter solutions business. All told, there are about 300 to 400 potential customers worldwide, he said.

The Azure software lets companies tap the power of more servers as needed without a person having to make manual adjustments, Rhodes said.

Because the appliances all have standard configurations of chips, storage and software they will be easier and cheaper to manage, Rhodes said.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, plans to start deploying the appliances in its own services organization and then with several pilot customers during the next few months. It will take a year or more before the servers become broadly available to other clients, Rhodes said.

Microsoft President, Server and Tools Business, Bob Muglia announced the product at its partner conference Monday in Washington, D.C.

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